Top Australian Crypto Exchanges Say They Aren’t Threatened by the Bigger Players
By Sebastian Sinclair
While total app downloads across both iOS and Google platforms show a rise in popularity among outside players, local incumbents remain unfazed.
Four of Australia’s top crypto exchanges say they aren’t concerned that some of the industry’s biggest players have had the country in their sights for quite some time.
In recent years, Kraken, Gemini, and Binance have all set up shop in the country, aiming to carve out some of the domestic market share.
And while total app downloads across both iOS and Google platforms show a rise in popularity among outside players, local incumbents Swyftx, CoinSpot, CoinJar, and BTC Markets remain unfazed.
“The competitive landscape has evolved and we’ve seen multiple exchanges come and go,” said Gary Howells, chief product officer at CoinSpot. “We are continually staying agile by adding new projects to the platform.”
Gemini, one of the first among today’s major global exchanges to begin operations in Australia, set up shop in mid-2019. A year later in June, Kraken launched a new Australian fiat-to-crypto exchange. Binance followed suit a month later. Binance Australia is locally registered and operated by InvestbyBit Pty Ltd., a point Binance has hammered home with multiple jurisdictions on more than one occasion, including Singapore, and Malta.
“We generally find that Australian customers prefer to use Australian exchanges with local support,” said Dominic Gluchowski, chief marketing officer at CoinJar. “While we can’t compete with the advertising spends and campaigns of the international heavy-hitters, we still tend to outperform on a dollar-to-dollar basis due to better understanding of local market conditions.”
The Australian market has proved a tough nut to crack for both crypto and traditional financial businesses looking to establish a foothold on the island nation. Like most regions, locals prefer to use platforms based on their local currency, with support offered in their native tongue. At press time, CoinSpot currently ranks fifth in terms of popularity among iOS devices within the finance category.
The larger players say it is less about carving out a share in the market and more about education to fuel further crypto adoption in those regions.
“The Australian market is key to achieving global adoption and our local strategy focuses on supporting this through education,” said Jonathan Miller, managing director of Kraken Australia.
Leigh Travers, CEO of Binance Australia agreed, saying the crypto industry was still in its infancy and had room to grow.
“With a market that has around one million crypto users, and an equities market that has ten million traders, there is a huge potential,” said Travers.
Additionally, regulatory guidance in Australia remains unclear. The country’s central bank has dismissed cryptocurrency assets as a fringe investment not worth policing, even while it explores the potential benefits of a central bank digital currency.
“We don’t yet know the contents of any proposed Australian regulations, said Caroline Bowler, CEO at BTC Markets. “We do know, however, that they are coming. It’s reasonable to expect they will be similar to the traditional financial industry. From experience, this means increased reporting, system testing, external auditing, controls on advertising – to name a few.” Binance is already acquainted with Australia’s stance toward crypto derivatives, having curbed its offerings last month.
Still, the competitive landscape amongst crypto exchanges is growing. And while the advertising spend cannot be matched by the smaller exchanges, it does appear as though the larger players are proving successful in marketing their platforms to local Australians, despite what CoinSpot, CoinJar, BTC Markets, Swyftx say.
Swyftx, one of Australia’s fastest-growing marketplaces, has climbed the rankings in total app downloads and is currently placed at 28 in terms of the total number of downloads within the finance category for iPhones. Though that placement pales in comparison to Crypto.com (4th), CoinSpot (5th), and Binance (9th). For those using the Google store, results were within a similar margin with Binance (5th), CoinSpot (6th), Crypto.com (7th), and Swyftx (20th) all featuring in the top 20. In June 2021, iOS devices held a 55.86% share of the mobile operating system market in Australia, according to data by Statista.
The exchanges are part of a growing chorus claiming they don’t feel threatened by the likes of Binance, Kraken, or Gemini.
“Traditionally, the Australian market in financial services has proved pretty resilient to competition from international providers because factors like trust, customer service, local presence, and transparency are such fundamental drivers of choice over here,” said Tommy Honan, head of strategic partnerships at Swyftx. “Long-term, we see no reason to believe this won’t be the case in the digital assets’ industry.”
Though all exchanges agreed competition was a necessary benefit to the domestic landscape, especially in reducing costs while forcing improvements to their platforms as well as driving innovation.
“As in most sectors of the economy, the benefits of full, effective competition in the crypto space are enhanced efficiency, the provision of better products to consumers, greater innovation and lower prices,” said Jeremy Ng, managing director of Gemini’s Asia Pacific arm.